As I write this review, it is the one year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the cry “Black Lives Matter” resounds throughout the country. In this challenging meditation on race in America, poet Claudia Rankine and adapter Stephen Sachs take us on a journey into a region we are reluctant to acknowledge. Through poetry, prose, movement, music and strong video images we observe and experience what it feels like to be treated like “the other” in your own country.
Rankine, who teaches poetry and creative writing at Pomona College, has said her primary subject is not so much about race, but the ways in which we encounter and fail each other. Here she shows it is not only the militarized racism that catches one unawares, it is the everyday, matter-of-fact contempt or the hidden awareness of difference where there really is none.
There is anger expressed, but also a deep sorrow that is a reminder of the often unheard words by other poets over hundreds of years.
Shirley Jo Finney’s direction ignites the performers - Bernard K. Addison, Leith Burke, Tina Lifford, Tony Maggio, Simone Missick, Lisa Pescia - who play myriad parts with energy and passion.
Powerful video design by Yee Eun Nam; sound by Peter Bayne; lighting by Pablo Santiago; movement by Anastasia Coon, costumes by Naila Aladdin-Sanders.
At The Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave, LA, through Sept. 14. Tickets: (323) 663-1525 or www.FountainTheatre.com.
Pay-What-You-Can every Monday night!
Photos by Ed Krieger.
Also reviewed in the September issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.